Smoking In Pregnancy
OK, so you know it’s important to give up smoking now you’re pregnant or trying for a baby. But as many mums will testify, it’s not always as easy as simply throwing away your last packet and forgetting about it. As an ex-smoker myself I can certainly testify to that.
If you’re a pregnant smoker, stopping smoking is probably the best thing you can do for your baby. But it could also be one of the hardest. It could be argued that the stress of stopping smoking is bad for your baby, but I think that the risks associated with smoking are obviously much worse.
It’s likely that your smoking is more than just a habit, it’s an addiction. And when you deny yourself that addiction, you can expect to feel cravings, giving you powerful urges to light up. Although the routine associated with smoking is almost an addiction in itself. So changing your normal routine a little could help break it. If you usually smoke with your morning cuppa, try doing something else to occupy your mind.
Cravings are intense, but they don’t last for long. A craving will usually last between three minutes and five minutes, and then pass, whether you light up or not. As soon as the craving passes, that next cigarette no longer seems so necessary.
Cravings are usually at their most intense for the first few days after you stop smoking. These urges will continue to be strong for a couple of weeks. After that, your brain will slowly adjust to a life without nicotine, though you won’t be completely in the clear for a while. A lot of quitters have to fight occasional cravings for at least a year or even longer.
If you smoke during pregnancy, you have a higher risk of having a baby with a low birth weight. This is in addition to the increased risk of heart disease and cancer that you have as a smoker.
Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are, on average, significantly smaller than those born to women who don’t smoke. Low birth weight is one of the main causes of illness and disability in babies, and also increases the risk of your baby being stillborn.
Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of cot death by four times if you have between one and nine cigarettes a day. This rises to an eight times higher risk of cot death if you smoke 20 cigarettes or more a day.
Other harmful effects of smoking include:
- ectopic pregnancy
- premature labour
- placental abruption
- vaginal bleeding
The further into pregnancy you smoke, the greater your risk of complications. If you stop smoking during the first half of your pregnancy, your baby is more likely to have a healthy birth weight. So stopping, or at the very least cutting down as early as possible, should be your aim.
Stopping smoking can be tough when the cravings hit, so you’ll probably need help. There’s plenty of support available to you. Your midwife or doctor can advise you and put you in touch with your local stop smoking support scheme.
Ok so on a more lighthearted note a few tips of my own:
- A lot of people worry about putting on weight when they stop smoking, at least this can now be hidden with your pregnancy weight gain. You could replace your nicotine addiction with a chocolate addiction!
- You could save the money you usually spend on smoking and buy yourself lovely new clothes for your increasing bump or just buy baby things, which in itself is addictive I was unstoppable!!
- If your partner smokes get them to quit too, make it competitive! If you as stubborn as me you’ll quit just to win! (It also will help your cravings if those around you aren’t smoking).
Posted in Pregnancy